Oral immunology case study

Understanding the immune control at the oral barrier.

The problem

Tissue-specific cues shaping immune function at the oral barrier are minimally explored. The oral cavity is one of the key areas where infections can get a foothold, therefore more research is needed to understand the mechanisms at work in this area.

Our work

To address this key area of unmet need, we have established an international network of academic and clinical collaborators to understand local education of immunity at the oral barrier and how these pathways go awry during the development of periodontitis.

Our work to date has provided novel insights in the following areas:

  • the impact of local tissue damage, arising as a result of mastication, in training immune function at the gingiva;
  • the effect of this chronic, but low level, tissue damage on the development of oral pathology;
  • the inflammatory cytokines contributing to the development of periodontitis;
  • the alterations that undermine oral barrier immunity with age;
  • the impact of the local commensal microbiota in shaping oral barrier immunity.

Our approach, which utilises complimentary human samples and mouse models, allows us to provide unique insights into immune control at the oral barrier and develop new therapeutics targeted to the oral barrier.

Principal investigator

Dr Joanne Konkel